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English para-cycling team fined after Commonwealth Games protest

BIRMINGHAM, England -- An English para-cycling team that protested after being denied an opportunity to participate in a medal ceremony at the Commonwealth Games has been fined by cycling's governing body.

Sophie Unwin and her pilot Georgia Holt appeared to have won bronze in the tandem B sprint Friday. They received an apology Saturday, but no medal.

The scoreboard had declared them bronze-medal winners, but they were later denied access to the podium, bringing Unwin to tears. Under competition rules, only gold and silver medals are awarded when there are fewer than five entrants.

Holding an English flag, they stood behind a fenced-off area when the medal ceremony began but were moved on by security.

Later, Unwin and Holt stood alone on the podium with bronze medals borrowed from supportive English teammates. This action led the UCI on Saturday to fine both cyclists as well as England team manager Keith Reynolds 200 Swiss francs ($210), the BBC reported.

The UCI said the fine was for "failure to respect the instructions" of the organizers.

The Commonwealth Games Foundation said Saturday that the decision not to award a bronze medal will stand in order to "maintain the integrity of competition."

"The policy -- which was published in January this year -- states that only gold and silver medals are awarded where there are only four contestants; and only gold medals where there are only three or two contestants.

"Unfortunately, while the athletes in the women's tandem B sprint event were informed of this before the race, the scoreboard and results sheet incorrectly indicated that it was a bronze medal race. We apologize to the athletes involved for the inadvertent distress this has caused."

On Saturday, England's Johnboy Smith's humility shone through after winning the wheelchair marathon held on the streets of Birmingham in a time of 1:41.14.

A silver medalist on the Gold Coast four years ago, the 32-year-old Smith was overwhelmed to go one better in 2022, though he acknowledged just how fortunate he was to succeed.

Smith said the gold medal honor deserved to go to his teammate David Weir, who held a decisive lead until suffering a puncture at the 35-kilometer mark of the T53/54 marathon.

"It's bittersweet for me. Dave got a flat. He had me," he said.

"I won, but the better man didn't win today. He deserves gold. I should have got silver, but look, these things happen."

Australia enjoyed success with Jessica Stenson winning the women's marathon and Madison de Rozario claiming the wheelchair event.

The 34-year-old Stenson, who claimed bronze medals in the marathon in the 2014 and 2018 editions in Glasgow and on the Gold Coast, respectively, recorded a time of 2:27.31.

She led a breakaway group featuring silver medalist Margaret Muriuki and 2018 gold medalist Helalia Johannes but was able to shake both rivals in the final five kilometers.

De Rozario, who set a new games record of 1:56.00, continued her dominance of the discipline after her success at the Tokyo Paralympics last year.

Uganda's Victor Kiplangat won the men's marathon in a time of 2:10.55, breaking away from silver medalist Alphonce Felix Simbu of Tanzania in the latter stages to win by more than 90 seconds.